After Mali, Islamic Militants Look to Niger


Credit: Anne Look/VOA

The French intervention in Mali is winding down and a United Nations peacekeeping mission has been deployed an has taken over security responsibilities from an African-led peacekeeping force. The French intervened in Mali in January 2013 at the request of the Malian government, who were struggling to deal with a Tuareg rebellion backed in part by Islamist militants.

Since the intervention began Islamic militants have been displaced from much of the territory they captured. Malian officials still plan on holding elections later this month. It seems that a country once threatened by Islamic takeover is free from that threat for now thanks to the French-led intervention.

However, the French-led intervention is limited to Mali. Islamic militants are not geographically bound, and while the situation in Mali may have improved it appears that Islamic militants have merely set their sights on another North African country, Niger.

The Economist reported on recent suicide attacks in Niger over the weekend:

The jihadists targeted Niger after its government backed a French-led campaign to oust their fellow insurgents from Mali next door. Niger has accepted military aid from America and France, allowing drones to operate from the capital, Niamey. "We were braced for an attack but not on this scale," says Moussa Akfar, a local security expert. "We were shocked. These were the first suicide-attacks in our history."

Niger is a good candidate for Islamic militants. It is one of, if not the poorest countries in the world, with a military and a government without the means to effectively deal with Islamic militants. The impoverished country is also roughly twice the size of France with a population of a little over 16 million, meaning that Islamic militants will not have a hard time moving around or hiding themselves.

It might well be the case that the French-led intervention mostly succeeded in removing Islamic militants from Mali. However, the threat Islamic militants pose to Niger and North Africa more broadly remains. The French and other Western nations do not have the ability to stage a French-style intervention in every North African country that Islamic militants decide to move into. The French, despite their recent mission in Mali, will have to rethink how to address Islamic fundamentalism in countries like Niger as Islamic militants spread across North Africa, something their intervention in Mali has evidently not stopped. 

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  1. Hopefully the US will get more involved. That will solve all the problems.

  2. RACISSST!!!!



    Heh heh.

    1. It’s not racist if you pronounce it as “The Republic of Niga“.

      1. In Minneapolis, the ghetto folks clearly pronounce the “R”. I suspect it’s due to Minnesota’s world-class educational system.

  3. Hmm. All I took away from this was that the French intervention was successful in what it set out to do (prevent militant take-over of Mali), and therefore, we can logically conclude that government military intervention is a good thing and should be applied wherever possible.

    1. Government action always solves problems and never simply pushes them somewhere else.

  4. We’re only making plans for Niger
    We only want what’s best for him
    Niger just needs a helping hand

    1. I LOL’ed.

  5. Razzia/Ghazi culture has existed for more than 1000 years in Islamic Africa, it is hubris to think an six-month half-assed U.N. peacekeeping mission is going to eliminate it from the region.

  6. a United Nations peacekeeping mission has been deployed an has taken over security responsibilities

    So the Islamonutters will be back in plenty of time for the elections.

    1. RC Dean is back?

      RC Dean is back!


  7. Niger, please.

  8. Reading this post, it isn’t entirely clear whether the author understands that Islamic militants may have been a threat in all of these countries–if the French hadn’t intervened in Mali, too.

    1. Remember, non-interventionism is a Faith. To think an intervention did unalloyed good is heresy.

      1. Whether intervention did any good is one question.

        In this case, there doesn’t seem to be much recognition that non-intervention might have had at least some negative consequences, too.

        Doesn’t it seem likely that leaving Al Qaeda affiliates to flourish in Mali might eventually lead to some terrorist types threatening Niger, too? I mean, as far as I know, there’s nothing in the Terrorist Rule Book that says, “Once we dominate Mali, we’re done”.

  9. The only mistake made in The French Offensive was not killing more militants. Otherwise, it was a smashing success without which North Africa would be in peril, and the western world in greater danger.

    1. I call BS. If we had let them tie themselves up and use themselves up in a Libyan civil war there never would have been an Islamist invasion/coup in Mali and now Niger.

      1. They used themselves up to more or less whatever extent that was possible–which is why they got pushed out of Libya.


        1. The Islamists won in Libya. They are still in many cities and their militias are untouched. See Benghazi.

          I do have to say if we were shipping arms from Benghazi to the Syrian rebels, maybe that worked out better than if they got into MB hands in Egypt.

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